Esper appears in various forms throughout history from the Provençal songs of twelfth century troubadour Gaucelm Faidit to the circuitous titling of the language Esperanto, both deriving from the Latin sperare, meaning "to hope," still evidenced in various Latin languages, such as Italian's sperare or Spanish's esperanza.
It also refers to an individual capable of telepathy and other similar paranormal abilities. The term was apparently coined in this sense by Alfred Bester in his 1950 short story "Oddy and Id" and is derived from the abbreviation ESP for extrasensory perception.
Esper in science fiction
In Steven M. Souza's mini-novella "The ESPers", members of a highly advanced (older) alien species (named the Eliad) have been tampering with younger species and with the net effect of preventing their full natural development (many of the greatest members of this species are possessed of psychic ability in addition to any high science that the race possesses) and one of their oldest members feels that this needs to be rectified. A weapon is created for this purpose but is almost lost in the struggle - this weapon encompasses the height of this race's technological and mental-disciplinary knowledge yet is still essentially a biological entity. The story of the character "Goner" unfolds the story of a man with no memory because he is this weapon (cloning and other technology). Due to an accident which occurred during the preparations for his completion and the forces being mobilized to find and eliminate his creator (and all possibility of his use as a weapon) he is damaged enough to be left with little to work from while his handlers struggle to survive and relocate him. Meanwhile he is exposed to the sinister effects of the meddling of the ESPers first-hand on the planet of his awakening - taken captive and forcibly trained to fight in a galactic conflict with little real value to the alien species carrying it out, puppets of the ESPers. The character learns to tap substantial psychic power which thrills his captors (ESPers applying to anyone with detectable psychic ability not just the elder race doing all the meddling - are being used as support crew on spacecraft during battle to assist in wartime where energy and mass-class weapons cannot always succeed), even as it fills him with disquiet (self-reflection and moral analysis of the actions of others by this not quite human entity occupy his formative time before he is reunited with his handlers and his creator). Copyright on the hard cover was from 1972, Lenox Hill Press.
The comic book series Espers, by writer James D. Hudnall and various artists, debuted in 1986 and has been since published by Eclipse Comics, Marvel Epic and Image Comics. The Espers are a team of people with various psychic powers who fight a global conspiracy. The comic is similar to the TV show Heroes (TV series), but precedes it by two decades.
In LRA Studios Pictures short-movie Espers, Espers are beings that look just like humans, except that they 1) have their names coded onto their right-arm and 2) are born with all kinds of powers (one specific power, though, exceeds them all). However, any power an Esper has can be stolen from him if he is killed by another Esper. Mimicry Espers, on the other hand, don't have to kill to possess another Esper's power(s). They only need to touch the Esper of interest to do so — but Mimicry Espers are a near-extinct race with only one still surviving on Earth. Espers are apparently from a planet called Esper. The Espers in the movie show a random assortment of powers like Telepathy, Telekinesis & Teleportation, but it is hinted that they have many more powers.
In Katsuhiro Otomo's science fiction masterpiece Akira, three espers are being kept at the military headquarters of Neo-Tokyo. Although they appear physically to be children, they have signs of age such as wrinkles and wizened features.
In the second Star Trek pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before," the term "esper" is used twice: first by Dr. Dehner to describe human beings that had displayed "flashes of insight," a dismissive description of anecdotal evidence of extrasensory perception abilities; the second by the mutated Gary Mitchell to describe himself and others like him who suddenly develop powerful paranormal abilities. In this case, he used the term to imply that his abilities made him superior to humans who lacked those abilities.
In the Sysco book series by R.M. McNutt, several characters have different physic abilities, brought on by toxic chemical pollution. Sysco, the main character, can cause fires to start with the force of her mind, her friend Mandy has telekinesis, the emotionless BioVectra chemical worker Zero Blanco can manipulate and control electricity, among others.
Esper in games
Esper appears in Magic: The Gathering, as one of the five Shards of Alara. The Esper plane uses white, blue and black cards. It also focuses heavily on artifacts, including coloured artifacts (which were a rare occurrence prior to the Shards of Alara block).
Espers have appeared sporadically in science fiction games from fairly early on, more often given its actual name in these than in most other sci-fi sources. One especially remarkable case is the Avalon Hill board game (later adapted to computer systems) Star Command, in which characters formally called Espers are available as support troops in infantry squads, and have abilities more or less matching the parapsychological theories of what an esper would be capable of.
Since the first installment in 1987, Espers have been a recurring group in Sega's Phantasy Star series; Part 1, 2 and 4 all featured important, sometimes playable Esper characters; the most notable being the character Lutz.
The term is used differently in the English release of Square Co. Super Nintendo role-playing video game Final Fantasy VI (released as Final Fantasy III in North America), in which beings called "Espers" are essentially demigods who wield magical abilities, and can be killed to allow these abilities to be transferred to humans. In the original Japanese version of the game, these creatures were known as 幻獣, (げんじゅう, genjū) which translates roughly into English as "phantom beast." The English translator of the game, Ted Woolsey, sought to find a word which he felt conveyed the same meaning with as few letters as possible; the English text files for the game were essentially expanded versions of the Japanese text files, taking up far more memory space than was available. In the end, he chose the word Esper. For more information regarding Espers in Final Fantasy VI, see Summon Magic. Espers also appear in Final Fantasy XII as disgraced deities and seraphs, banished from the heavens due to acts of rebellion, corruption and the desire to destroy life. There are a total of thirteen Espers appearing in the game: one for each sign of the astrological zodiac, and the thirteenth; Serpentarius.
Although both The Final Fantasy Legend and Final Fantasy Legend II featured a character class known as "Mutant", in the original Japanese versions of the games (Makai Toushi Sa·Ga and Sa・Ga2: Hihō Densetsu, respectively), the character class was Esper. In both games, the class amounts to spellcasters.
The Psychic type of the Pokémon franchise is referred to as the "Esper type" in Japanese versions. The psychic form of Eevee is called Espeon; this is also a reference to ESP (Eon is the suffix for all of Eevee's evolutions) and Espurr's name is based on esper and purr. In the popular Pokémon games, the psychic type gym leader, Sabrina of Saffron city and Elite Four member Will are known to be espers.
Espers are also present in Yu-Gi-Oh! Following in the line of Cybers (Cyber Dragon representing the Chinese dragon, Cyber Phoenix representing the Fenghuang, and Cyber Kirin representing the Qilin), a monster named Cyber Esper exists that has a telepathic ability to see the opponent's cards whenever they're drawn. Esper Roba is a character in the Yu-Gi-Oh series.
The Xbox game Phantom Dust has a group of individuals that include the main protagonist called Espers, individuals that have lost their memories but in return gain control over psychic powers (which include moving objects at will and manipulating/producing fire, ice, telekinetic blades, wind, etc.)
The Japan-only Kunio-kun game Nekketsu! Street Basket: Ganbare Dunk Heroes features a Florida basketball team called the Florida Espers. One member of the team is capable of teleporting to wherever the ball is and sending it to his team's hoop.
S4 League, a third-person shooter game, stands for "Stylish eSper Shooting Sports". eSper refers to skills that can be held by the characters.
Espers play a major role in 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and in the sequel Virtue's Last Reward. Espers have the potential to spread knowledge or move through parallel timelines without physical transfer.
Esper in manga, anime and tokusatsu
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- The Narumi twins from Cage of Eden has a reputation for being espers.
- Reino from Skip Beat! is referred to as esper.
- Tsukamoto Yakumo from School Rumble.
- Itsuki Koizumi from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. (His abilities only manifest in distorted areas known as "closed spaces", where the common laws of physics do not apply).
- Kyouko Tachibana from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. (She is an esper from another organization).
- In Witch Hunter Robin, espers are labeled as witches and hunted down by a secret organization.
- Asuna Kagurazaka accuses Negi Springfield of being an esper in Negima, episode 2, when he is, in fact, a mage.
- The Kasuga family in Kimagure Orange Road is a family of secret espers who must keep others from learning of their powers.
- Tetsuo, Akira and other test subjects in the Akira manga and film.
- Reincarnation PSME (please save my earth): 6 people who were reincarnated who have to face their new memory from the past and who slowly discover their own ESP abilities.
- Popi-kun in the Akazukin Chacha OVA.
- The Kunio-kun game Nekketsu! Street Basket: Ganbare Dunk Heroes features a Florida basketball team called the Florida Espers. One member of the team is capable of teleporting to wherever the ball is and sending it to his team's hoop.
- Almost all the characters of Ghost Hunt like Taniyama Mai, Kazuya Shibuya and all the members of the SPR.
- The race of evolved human called "The Mu" in Toward the Terra.
- Kamui Shirō of the popular manga and TV anime and OAV X/1999.
- Chojin (Choujin) Locke from "Locke the Superman" is an immortal esper; there are also soldier espers raised at a school led by Lady Kahn.
- Lilica Evett, third member of Warriors in anime Burn Up Scramble.
- Main characters from the anime/manga Zettai Karen Children and most of the characters are in fact, Espers.
- Main characters from the animated movie series Towa no Quon and most of the characters are in fact Espers but are mostly referred to as Attractors or Larva.
- In Miracle Girls, the main characters, Toni and Mika, are Espers.
- Ellis in El Cazador de la Bruja is referred to as an esper along with Nastarsha and L.A.. L.A. and Ellis were artificially created however.
- Naoto and Naoya from Night Head Genesis.
- Psychics in E's Otherwise are also called Espers.
- Esper Mami in Esper Mami and "s4 league:
- Jasmine in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger. Other Espers appear in the series too.
- Hiroto and Miyu in Engine Sentai Go-onger.
- In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, Mammon, aka. Viper, mainly known as an illusionist, is said by Reborn to be a first class ESPer long before learning how to use illusions.
- Hyuuga Mayuki in Suteki Tantei Labyrinth the mysterious child who uses his esper powers to give tips to the police (episode 1).
- In Toaru Majutsu no Index & Toaru Kagaku no Railgun most of the students in Academy City are espers or are studying to become espers. They are divided into a category of level 0 to level 5 depending on how strong their esper abilities are.
- In Kämpfer Natsuru Senō thinks Nishino Masumi from the Newspaper Club is an Esper.
- Miura Kento in Kimi Ni Todoke claims to be an esper.
- Mentioned in the Mobile Suit Gundam series, in which newtypes were originally feared to be espers.
- The main characters in the manga "DCD" or "Diamond Cut Diamond" are espers.
- Hoshimiya Yashiro from the anime Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko refers to herself as an esper.
- In Danganronpa: The Animation, Sayaka Maizono refers to herself as an esper, jokingly to Makoto Naegi.
- The rank 2, S-Class Hero, Tornado of Terror and her sister the rank 1, B-Class Hero, Blizzard Of Hell from the manga One-Punch Man are both espers.
- Smith, Justin Harvey (1899). The Troubadours at Home: Their Lives and Personalities, Their Songs and Their World. New York & London: Putnam. p. 425.
- "SF Citations for OED". OED. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
- Bester, Alfred (1996) . The Demolished Man. Random House. p. 8. ISBN 0-679-76781-9. "E for Esper," he muttered. "Esper for Extra Sensory Perception ..."
- Esper Commandos, UK: International hero.